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Old 02-20-2014, 08:54 AM   #15
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I was a technical advisor to the Intellectual Property Law department at IBM for many years (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer). What the previous posters have said is right on the mark. Filing and obtaining a patent is a long, expensive process. The first simple test for whether an idea is patentable is that it has to be "novel, useful and non obvious". If you feel your invention qualifies on all three counts, then check out LegalZoom: Online Legal Document Services: LLC, Wills, Incorporation, Divorce & More. I'm not endorsing them, just suggesting a possible lower cost route.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:37 AM   #16
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I'm curious what could possibly be done with an RV toilet that hasn't already been tried.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:46 AM   #17
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Well its an idea that would reduce black tank to 5gal no need for water and can flush feminine products with no problem. best thing is no more smell. Can't really say more than that.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:58 AM   #18
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Great Lakes - If you try to sell your idea to someone, there are pitfalls there too. Not trying to talk you out of it, but if you truly have an innovative design I wouldn't want to hear of you getting burned. Tread warily!
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:19 AM   #19
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Google Incinolet.

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Well its an idea that would reduce black tank to 5gal no need for water and can flush feminine products with no problem. best thing is no more smell. Can't really say more than that.
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Old 02-20-2014, 02:03 PM   #20
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Google Incinolet.
Yes I've seen those on an episode of dirty jobs. Mine would not require any burning and smell associated with it.
Don't think I would want a poop incinerator in my RV.
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Old 02-20-2014, 04:59 PM   #21
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Intellectual Property

Indeed getting a patent is very time consuming and expensive. Companies that can afford to do this have a much better opportunity, and this is how I received one patent.

For an individual, a much better (and more discreet approach with less public disclosure) is to have a great name for the product, and then trademark the name. Trademarks are much less expensive and faster to get.

If you would like to discuss further, use private message.
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:11 PM   #22
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I have several patents. They're assigned to my employer, but I was heavily involved in the process. I'm not a lawyer, I'm a design engineer.

Patents are a double edged sword. The act of filing a patent makes the information public knowledge, even if the patent isn't granted. It is up to you to defend your patent- the government only provides the registration of the patent. It's up to you to sue in civil court to protect against infringement, and if you don't defend your patent it isn't any good. You can't really selectively defend it, and if you can't afford to defend it you are SOL. It takes an attorney at least 40 hours of work to take your drawings and make them into a patent application, and it takes more hours than that to actually get the patent, so don't expect it to be cheap. Also, just the fact that you own a patent means nothing- you have to figure out how to market the idea or produce the product and market that.

The USPTO has gone to a "first filed" approach to patent disputes, so that somewhat negates the "post office patent" approach. If you published the design before someone else claimed the patent, then their patent could be nullified, but if you didn't make the info public, and someone else came out with the idea independently, you have nothing to stand on against their patent.

You also have to patent in every country you expect to do business in to get protection. My patents are mostly US, Europe, Japan, and China due to the market I sell to, and there are several countries with reciprocal patent protection, but if I patent something only in the US, that means that someone else can legally copy my design and sell it in Europe.

Also, don't talk any more about your idea to anybody except your attorney and those under legally binding non-disclosure agreements. You can accidentally invalidate your own claims by doing that.

I think you should consult an intellectual property attorney. Even if you don't patent, sit down with that person for a half hour, pay them their retainer, and lay out what you want to do. They are bound by their bar to confidentiality and ethical behavior. They can tell you your options and what each of those options offers you, as far as protection. You may chose to protect your ideas with design patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and copyrights, instead of a utility patent. Best of all, that person can tell you if something like the "post office patent" will really hold up to any sort of challenge, and how to protect yourself when it's time to bring in other parties to the process.
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:48 PM   #23
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I have a patent and you have been given a lot of good advice. There are two kinds of patents, a design patent and a utility patent. The design patent is the easiest and cheapest to get but also the easiest to circumvent, conversely the utility patent is more expensive and easier to defend in court. My utility patent was estimated to cost $8000-$10000 but after the third submittal and finally approval, I had about $25,000 in it. You definitely should use a patent attorney. A patent is like a lock on a door, it keeps an honest man honest but merely slows down a dishonest man. I had my product knocked off by someone I knew and had to take them to court for patent infringement. My attorney advised me to be prepared to spend upward of $200,000 to pursue the case and because of one word in the patent, it would depend on a jury to decide. We eventually won a trade dress law suit against the other party because it was more economical than the patent suit.
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